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Metal Stuff’s 2017 Review: The Year in Metal

The Good

It was a good year for metal releases.

I think the metal community got spoiled after last year’s “metal bubble” and the Thrash revival. Compared to the incredible amount of good music that got dumped on us anything is going to seem lackluster, but 2017 was a good fucking year for heavy music (once you accept that 2016 was a happy fluke).

Metal Stuff Top 15 albums of 2017

15) Suffer in Paradise – Ephemere

Suffer in Paradise - Ephemere

Quality Funeral Doom from Russia, this album was my “October surprise” for 2017. The synth is a little weird at first, but the contrast lends to the overall atmosphere of the album.

 

14) Loss – Horizonless

Loss - Horizonless

I actually didn’t like this album the first time I listened to it. Glad I gave it another chance – guess it’s more of a grower than a shower. Not necessarily a bad thing, albums like that tend to stand the test of time.

 

13) Nortt – Endeligt

Nortt - Endeligt

Holy fuck. This solo Funeral Doom project from Denmark never disappoints. His last album (Galgenfrist) was released 10 years ago, and the decade long wait for the new album was more than worth it. Dark, gloomy, cold, and most importantly heavy as fuck.

 

12) Belphegor – Totenritual

Belphegor = Totenritual

I’ve been stoked for this album since Belphegor released the video for “Totenkult – Exegesis of Deterioration” 2 years ago. Another album that was well worth the wait.

 

 

11) Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis

Akercocke - Renaissance in Extremis

A lot of people didn’t like the clean vocals on the album. I’ll admit, Jason isn’t getting any younger – and time has taken a bit of a toll on his vocal chords. But as a whole, that doesn’t really take away from the album for me. The band is as sharp as they’ve ever been, and while the cleans in some sections seem a bit strained, I almost wonder if that’s intentional – because if you listen to other tracks (like the one below), the cleans are pretty fucking good. I dunno, judge for yourself.

 

10) Tie (Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black and Morbid Angel – Kingdoms Disdained)

I couldn’t choose, both bands released some quality material this year (in both cases, also significantly better than the previous release). Straightforward, in your face death metal with no bells or whistles.

 

9) Kreator – Gods of Violence

Kreator_-_Gods_of_Violence

Right on the tail end of the Thrash resurgence, Kreator dropped an excellentalbum that (like most albums released in the first half of the year) seems to have been left out of people’s top albums of the year. Why/How is beyond me, this album is quintessential thrash.

8) Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper

Bell Witch - Mirror Reaper

Probably the Funeral Doom release that received the most hype this year (for good fucking reason), the album has lived up to and surpassed any expectations I had. Mirror Reaper seemed to dance on that “invisible line” in the doom metal spectrum between Funeral Doom and Drone (not a bad thing)

 

7) Eluveitie – Evocation II

Eluveitie-Evocation-II-Pantheon

I know, I know. It’s a fucking acoustic album on a top metal albums of the year list. Since recruiting like 20 new members, it’s cool to see these guys bouncing back stronger than ever.

The band already has a full-on folk metal album in the works, and I’m as excited as a pig in shit. If the entire album holds up to the teaser single below, we’re in for a treat next year.

 

6) Mesmur – S

Mesmur-S

These guys need to cough up some merchandise so I can throw more money at them. This was another album that caught me completely off guard this year. Pure sonic embodiment of despair.

 

5) Funeris – Dismal Shapes

Funeris - Dismal Shapes

Argentinian Funeral Doom mastermind Alejandro Sabransky delivers another masterpiece. This guy just writes riffs that satisfy my addiction to heavy music. Punishingly heavy – this really is an album you need to lay down, turn off the lights, and let wash over you.

 

4) Frowning – Extinct

frowning - extinct

The sophomore release from German solo Funeral Doom act Frowning was one of the two albums I was most excited to hear this year. I’ll tell you something, Val doesn’t disappoint. This is pure Funeral Doom that doesn’t sacrifice the residual aggression and heaviness of Death Doom. I really can’t say enough good about this album, or this artist. This is what Funeral Doom is supposed to sound like.

 

3) Temple of Void – Lords of Death

Temple of Void - Lords of Death

This was the third album that caught me completely off guard and blew me out of the water this year. Dark, crushing riffs – if a “holy shit” level of heavy is what you’re looking for then look no further.

 

2) Dying Fetus – Wrong One to Fuck With

DF - Wrong one

This is another album that got a lot of beaming reviews, but failed to make most people’s end of year lists. Odd, considering the hype leading up to the album – and how well the band delivered.

1) Unleash the Archers – Apex

UTA - Apex

Favorite album of the year hands down. Hands fucking down. There’s literally nothing I can say about this album that hasn’t already been said. The musicianship is solid, and they’ve managed to capture that “American Metal” production delivering a crystal clear sonic assault directly to your ears. Brittney Slayes vocal chords are simply amazing, I’m a rather big fan of the layered harmonies on a lot of the songs. Even the concept of the album (yes, I’m a sucker for concept albums) is fucking awesome – a stone giant sleeping in a mountain is summoned by an evil sorceress to gather her sons from around the world so she can sacrifice them and gain immortality – told from the viewpoint of the stone giant. Catchy and fun while undeniably heavy and metallic, this is an album you shouldn’t miss.

Honorable Mentions:

Alestorm – No Grave but the Sea, Pallbearer – Heartless, Septicflesh – Codex Omega, Obituary – Self Titled, Myrkur – Mareridt, Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard, Skyclad – Forward into the Past, Decapitated – Anticult, Suffocation – …of the Dark Light, Code Orange – Forever, Æther Realm – Tarot

The Year of OSDM

As predicted last year, metal moved forward from a year of thrash to a year of old-school death metal. It’s not some ground breaking revelation, that’s the order extreme metal evolved in organically.

Once you accept the fact that everything is cyclical, it makes perfect sense that the next phase of metal releases would include the original death metal pioneers.

I’d say releases by Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Obituary, Decapitated, Six Feet Under, Suffocation, and Autopsy certainly support my ongoing theory that extreme metal movements will mirror the original evolution of the sub-genres.

At this point I would like to predict a major swath of Black Metal releases next year. Dark Fortress, Isahn, Immortal, Shining, Watain, Dimmu Borgir, and Nachmystium all have material in the studio and are all expected to release albums next year – so we’ll see.

Other cool shit

There’s a new fucking Demons and Wizards album coming out next year. New Eluveitie as well.

Be excited.

Be very excited.

I don’t think there was a single bad Funeral Doom release this year. Obviously, the big story here was Bell Witch’s new album – I think there was better FD released this year, but I gotta hand it to these guys – Mirror Reaper was an excellent fucking album.

 

The Mediocre

There were bands that, by all rights, should have released some groundbreaking fucking material that just decided to coast this year.

Arch Enemy released “War Eternal Part II”, but decided to call it “Will to Power”. For fucks sake, they’ve got Jeff Loomis and this is the best thing they could come up with? Oh, and that thing when Amott said there’d never be clean vocals on an Arch Enemy album? Yeah, that’s gone. Goddamn it. I love every fucking member of this band, which is why I’m probably a little over critical, I just hate to see a super group of this magnitude cashing out so soon.

Empire of Sand by Mastodon was another one that really bugged me. “Show Yourself” was utter garbage.

Also disappointingly mediocre – TBDM, Dragonforce, GWAR, and Trivium.

 

The Bad, the Really Bad, and the Ugly

Shit went down when #rapegate hit heavy metal. Decapitated, Suicide Silence, Inanimate Existence, Twiggy (Marilyn Manson’s guitarist), Anthrax’s old guitarist Dan Spitz, Shining. I’m sure there was more. Oh yeah, Gene Simmons – that one caught me totally off guard.

Deaths:

  • 1/28 – Geoff Nicholls (Black Sabbath)
  • 2/13 – Trish Doan (Kittie)
  • 4/5 – Paul O’Neill (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • 5/17 – Chris Cornell (Soundgarden)
  • 7/14 – David Zablidowsky (Trans-Siberian Orchestra)
  • 7/20 – Chester Bennington (Linkin Logs Park)
  • 9/22 – Eric Eycke (Corrosion of Conformity)
  • 10/21 – Martin Eric Ain (Celtic Frost)
  • 10/22 – Daisy Berkowitz (Marilyn Manson)
  • 11/1 – Scott Wily (Vital Remains)
  • 11/7 – Whitey Glan (Alice Cooper)
  • 11/9 – Chuck Mosley (Faith No More)
  • 12/13 – Warrel fucking Dane (Sanctuary, Nevermore)

 

Black Sabbath disbanded too.

So yeah, there’s all of that. I probably missed something.

Weird fucking year.

 

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Metal Stuff goes to the Pocono Folk Metal Fest

A few weeks ago (November 3rd-4th), my girlfriend and I had the pleasure of attending the third installment of North America’s Premier Folk Metal Festival, the Pocono Folk Metal Festival. .

The mastermind behind this event is none other than the legendary Jeff Addison of folk-metal.nl (who as I understand it pretty much single-handedly coordinates the whole shindig).

jeff addison

Situated in the Scenic Pocono Mountains, this two day event brings together some of the best Pagan/Viking/Folk Metal acts from around the country (and from overseas).

I’ll admit it, at first I was a little bit skeptical. I know Folk Metal is tearing up Europe right now (to the point where there are more new Folk Metal bands than even Black Metal or Melodic Death Metal) – but here in the States I hadn’t realized there was that big of a following. Plus, metal festivals in the US are kind of lackluster, right? Wrong.

I was way off. Holy shit.

I should have known when my friends went all “oldschool metal propaganda campaign” that this was the real deal.

I’m not sure what I expected, but here’s what I got:

  • Sixteen bands over two days (the headliners, Aether Realm, recently returned from a European tour with Alestorm if my memory serves me).
  • Seamless transitions between bands,
  • Excellent lighting and sound (courtesy of Prodigy Studios),
  • Discounted hotel rooms for attendees,
  • Pagan-friendly vendors (including some excellent tattoo artists).
  • Heathen music distributors selling vinyl I didn’t think I could get in the United States.
  • And a bar serving honey AND strawberry mead.mead

For the money, you’re not going to find anything close around here. The Poconos are a 2 hour drive away for millions of people in the Northeast. Long story short, it’s rural enough to be 100% appropriate for a Folk Metal festival (there are trees, enough to constitute a “forest”) and urban enough for indoor plumbing. 50 bucks for 16 bands is chump change, and after attending I feel like I got the better end of that deal.

Great atmosphere, great people, a plethora of kilts, multiple fiddles in a heavy metal context (very important), grog aplenty

(Event photos courtesy of Tigran Kapinos Photography)

 

 

The Bands:

WINDFAERER
BLACK FOLK METAL
NEW JERSEY
https://www.facebook.com/windfaerer/

LÖR
PROGRESSIVE POWER/FOLK METAL
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/lorofficial/

BLOODEAGLE
VIKING THRASH
KINGSTON, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/bloodeaglepa/

THE CONQUERING
BLACK FOLK METAL
COLUMBUS, OHIO
https://www.facebook.com/TheConquering/

ISENMOR
GEWYRDELIC FOLC METAL
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
https://www.facebook.com/isenmor/

FERUS DIN
BLACK FOLK METAL
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/FerusDinBuffalo/

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4TH DOORS OPEN AT 12PM

ÆTHER REALM
FOLK METAL/MELODEATH
NORTH CAROLINA
https://www.facebook.com/AetherRealm/

WILDERUN
PROGRESSIVE FOLK METAL
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialWilderun/?ref=br_rs

GOBLIN HOVEL
METALLIC FOLK
CLARENCE, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/GoblinHovel/

WINTER NIGHTS
MELODIC DEATH FOLK METAL
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/winternightsofficial/

SEKENGARD
WORLD FOLK METAL
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
https://www.facebook.com/Sekengard/

WANDERING OAK
PROGRESSIVE FOLK METAL
WESTERN NEW YORK/MASSACHUSETTS
https://www.facebook.com/WanderingOakVinnland/

LAST LEGION
VIKING DEATH METAL
NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/LastLegionBand/

TURNCLOAK
FOLK METAL
PALMERTON, PENNSYLVANIA
https://www.facebook.com/turncloak/

FIAKRA
POWER/FOLK METAL
FREEHOLD, NEW JERSEY
https://www.facebook.com/fiakrametal/

WINTERS WAKE
VIKING METAL
STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK
https://www.facebook.com/WintersWakeMetal/

The Vendors:

SVINFYLKIN
HEATHEN WARES
https://www.facebook.com/Svinfylkin/

MOUNTAIN HEATHER CUSTOM CREATIONS
WALL ART, WEARABLE ART, WINDOW HANGINGS
https://www.facebook.com/ArtistAtLarge66/

THE MOUSOLEUM (SATURDAY ONLY)
ODDITIES, PRESERVED CREATURES, TAXIDERMY, SKULLS
https://www.facebook.com/The-Mousoleum-1303430103055715/

DODSON DESIGNS
LEATHER AND WOOD CREATIONS
https://www.facebook.com/drdodsondesigns/

TATTOOS BY JAKE
TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS
https://www.facebook.com/Freedom-Tattoo-Company-1909786679251369/

THE HEX FACTORY (SATURDAY ONLY)
HEX SIGNS
https://www.facebook.com/Hex-Factory-433137713561021/

SHIELD MAIDEN MAILLE
CHAIN MAILLE JEWELRY ACCESSORIES
https://www.facebook.com/shieldmaidenmaille/?ref=br_rs

ENCHANTED SANCTUARY MYSTICAL GIFTS
METAPHYSICAL ITEMS
https://www.facebook.com/pg/EnchantedSanctuaryMysticalGifts/about/?ref=page_internal

DRAGON SWAMP CURIOS
JEWELRY, ACCESSORIES, ARMOR AND LEATHER GOODS
https://www.facebook.com/DragonSwampCurios/

ODIN’S ANTIQUES
CELTIC, SLAVIC AND VIKING JEWELRY AND MORE!!
https://www.facebook.com/Odins.Antiques/

THE PAISLEY PATCH
UNIQUE GIFTS AND HANDMADE CREATIONS
https://www.facebook.com/paisleysandmore/

 

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